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February 2011

Perfect opportunity to contribute to your community ~Clean up Australia Day~

Clean Up Australia Day is on next weekend. We've registered to help out at our local park. How about you? Are you going to help clean up Australia?

IMG_2490-1 Little Eco on her second Clean Up Australia Day. This year will be her fourth.

Her spaces: a few child-sized eco play spaces

I thought i'd share a few of Little Eco's favourite play spaces.

'Little lounge room'



Little Eco's 'Little Lounge Room' occupies a teeny corner of our lounge room. Most of its contents are well and truly 'pre-loved'. The timber lounge was made by my grandfather around 38 years ago (it doubles as a table). There's the Itsy bitsy teeny weeny kitchen hutch, and a vintage tin. The tea cups, picnic basket, dolls house, doily, cardboard filing boxes, and side table are also all pre-loved. 

Craft space


This craft space has been around for only a week or so, but has become a favourite spot for threading beads and sewing. Next week I think we'll try sewing on buttons. I'm also keeping an eye out for a vintage sewing basket that i'll fill with toddler-friendly sewing equipment. I think i'll leave a new craft activity out ready each week.

The 1940/50's kids chairs were a very lucky ebay find (I can't believe I was the only one bidding on them!) that I happily added to our collection.


The sweet little pictures came from a damaged story book and I made the pottery 'thing' on the right when I was around 12.

Little Eco wasn't happy about me repurposing one of her teddy bears as a pin cushion for her sewing needles....


...and quickly rescued teddy.

'Work space'

Inspired by Immy's new art space, I finally created a little desk space i'd been planning for ages. Little Eco promptly declared it was her 'work space'. Everything is out ready for her to use; paper, pencils, scissors, glue, crayons, and activity books



I've started collecting embroidered vintage doilies. How can I resist them when someone has spent hours and hours lovingly sewing them and now they sit in an op shop for only $1!?

Need more doily inspiration? You simply have to check out dottie angel.

Painting space


This is definitely the most used space. A basket of paints and brushes lives on the table so that Little Eco can paint whenever she wants.


Rather than buy loads of different colours (and the packaging that comes with them), I buy primary colours and white and we mix any colours we need. I've been surprised by how quickly Little Eco is learning what colours to mix to create the colours she needs.

We mix colours in glass jars, so that if there's any left over we simply put on the lid and save it till next time.

Little Eco's painting smock is probably one the most 'pre-loved' things in our house. Daddy Eco made the smock out of an old T-shirt he couldn't bear to part with and it's been worn hundreds of times since then (including for one of her most memorable painting moments).

The paper is also recycled. I keep an eye out at work for one-sided reports that are about to be tossed out. The A3 ones make great art books.

The best thing about all theses little spaces....


...they are within metres of where I spend most of my time. She can get on with her stuff and I can get on with mine.

Although sometimes I think I should watch her 'stuff' a little closer.


This is what greeted me only a few minutes after taking the above painting photos. Have you noticed this girl is obsessed with face and body painting?

Montessori inspired play spaces

Much of what I have incorporated into Little Eco's play spaces has been influenced by the Montessori method. Small, child-sized environments. An opportunity for her to choose her own activity. An open, uncluttered environment.

If you are interested in more Montessori play spaces, here's my absolute favorites:

New York Social Diary: Lisa Mahar Home, Ohdeedoh

Finns corner, finnian's montessori room, and finnian and lachlan's studio, Sew Liberated.


For more play inspiration, head on over to this weeks We Play at Childhood 101.

If you found this post helpful or inspiring, please take a moment and share it. Tweets or Facebook likes are great. Many thanks.

Don't forget to enter the Seeds for the Future giveaway. Entried close thursday.

Be well and happy,Tricia.

Fresh tomato and basil sunshine soup (and some solar cooking news)


You must try this lovely fresh tomato and basil soup. It's so simple and absolutely delicious. Although, i'm sure some of that deliciousness comes from cooking the soup in sunshine.

Fresh tomato and basil sunshine soup (stove top and solar oven versions)

Serves 8.


  • 2 onions, chopped. 
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped or crushed.
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil (if using a solar oven, due to the longer cooking time, you can switch to an oil with a higher heat tolerance, like rice bran oil).
  • 1 kilogram tomatoes, skinned and chopped. 
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste.
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped. 
  • 1 litre vegetable stock.

{Stove top method}

Heat the oil in a large saucepan and saute the onions and garlic until the onion is transparent.

Add remaining ingredients, bring to the boil and simmer for at least twenty minutes.

Season to taste with salt and pepper.


{Solar oven method}

Place onion, garlic and olive oil in a dark shallow dish as seen in the image above (I use a cake tin) and place in the solar oven. On a sunny day the onion should be ready in around half an hour. Or if you're pushed for time, instead, quickly saute on the stove top.

Transfer the onion and garlic mix to a large, dark, thin pot. Add remaining ingredients and place in the solar oven with a lid on the pot.

Go for a walk, or do some gardening, or head off to work, and return an hour or five later (thankfully things don't burn in a solar oven), toss in the basil, stir, and cook for a few more minutes. 

Season to taste with salt and pepper and smell the sunshine. Enjoy!

Calling all lovers of solar cooking

Heather and I have started an exciting new project. We're writing a solar oven cookbook and are inviting recipe contributions. We've got recipes being contributed from around the globe.

How about you? Are you a lover of solar cooking? Are you interested in contributing a recipe? Email SunCookBook {at} gmail {dot} com for more information.

Speaking of lovers of solar cooking, check out Dixiebelle's recent solar cooking adventures.

I'll leave you with my favourite photo from a recent solar cooking feast Heather and I had at Fig Tree Community Gardens.


Shared at the Hearth and Soul blog hop and Simple Lives Thursday.

Ethical fundraiser Seeds for the Future ~ better than chocolate or cakes

Toys, books, chocolate, cakes and shopping tours.

These are some of things I’ve been invited to buy in the name of fundraising. I like to support our local schools and community groups, but I’m not usually prepared to buy something I don’t need, to do so. I’m often left with a sense of guilt for not contributing to fundraising.

So I was thrilled when I heard about the Australian ethical fundraiser Seeds for the Future.


To raise funds for your chosen charity you simply sell packets of organic seeds. The sweet little packets of are made from recycled paper and printed with vegetable ink. There’s nothing to feel guilty about there!

Interested? Find out how it works here.

I love that the current seeds can be easily gown in pots and are fast growing (perfect for impatient kids). There's even a growing tips page for each type of seed.


Erica, founder of Seeds for the Future, has sent me a box of her cute seed packets to giveaway to my readers. Thanks Erica!

I'm giving away a set of the Summer seed collection (as seen above) to five lucky Australian readers (each winner receives five packets of seeds).

To go in the draw simply leave a comment below.

You can receive up to four bonus entries by leaving additional comments for sharing via facebook, twitter, email, or your blog.

Entries close midnight Thursday the 24th Feb.

I'm curious, if you had to raise funds for someone or something, who or what would it be? Me...i'd choose my favourite NGO, the Australian Network for Plant Conservation.You?

Be well and happy,